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Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres Paperback – October 11, 2013

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About the Author

Henry Brooks Adams (1838 1918; normally called Henry Adams) was an American journalist, historian, academic and novelist. He is best-known for his autobiographical book, The Education of Henry Adams. He was a member of the Adams political family. Both his paternal grandfather, John Quincy Adams, and great grandfather, John Adams, one of the most prominent among the Founding Fathers, had been U.S. Presidents, his maternal grandfather was a millionaire, and another great grandfather, Nathaniel Gorham, signed the Constitution. After his graduation from Harvard University in 1858, he embarked on a Grand Tour of Europe, during which he also attended lectures in civil law at the University of Berlin. He was initiated into the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity as an honorary member at the 1893 Columbian Exposition by Harris J. Ryan, a judge for the exhibit on electrical engineering. Through that organization, he was a member of the Irving Literary Society. Adams's The History of the United States of America (1801 to 1817) has been called "a neglected masterpiece." In the 1880s, Adams also wrote two novels. He is credited as the author of Democracy, which was published anonymously in 1880 and immediately became popular. (Only after Adams's death did his publisher reveal Adams's authorship.) His other novel, published under the nom de plume of Frances Snow Compton, was Esther, whose eponymous heroine was believed to be modeled after his wife. He published The Education of Henry Adams in 1907, in a small private edition for selected friends. For Adams, the Virgin Mary was a symbol of the best of the old world, as the dynamo was a representative of modernity. It was only following Adams's death that The Education was made available to the general public, in an edition issued by the Massachusetts Historical Society. It ranked first on the Modern Library's 1998 list of 100 Best Nonfiction Books and was named the best book of the twentieth century by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, a conservative organization that promotes classical education. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1919.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (October 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1470080788
  • ISBN-13: 978-1470080785
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,755,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. le vicomte de rien on November 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review is ONLY for the edition noted above. Most editions of this book are facsimiles of earlier editions. You can download the book from google for free. Exact same text and layout. I ordered this item (the ASIN 1604241438 version) twice at $4.96 (I see now its about $15) and both times the cover arrived rather bent. The reprint is worth 5 dollars, because it is just a bound version of the PDF you could download from google.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By An Avid Reader on October 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres should be considered and read alongside The Education of Henry Adams. In Chartres, he described the medieval world view as reflected in its cathedrals, which he believed expressed "an emotion, the deepest man ever felt--the struggle of his own littleness to grasp the infinite." Adams was drawn to the ideological unity expressed in Roman Catholicism and symbolized by the Virgin Mary; he contrasted this coherence with the uncertainties of the 20th century. An intellectual journey of an American's view of France.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Vaughn G. Gooding Jr. on February 25, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was printed in response to my order,i.e., on demand, and the type chosen was so small I did not even attempt to read it. There were no illustrations.
I subsequently bought a used copy of the paperback edition which included a brilliant preface, the illustrations, and an exponentially easier format.
I threw away the copy purchased from Amazon.
Probably my only truly disappointing encounter with Amazon.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By altiori on January 31, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have never seen such a lousy printing. Indeed, we received our copy on 31 January 2012--and saw that it had been printed on 27 January 2012. It is impossible to read. The print size is worthy of an opthamologist's chart to determine just how small a size print it is possible for the human eye to read. I do not know how Amazon can even think of selling such a copy of what is a great book. I purchased the book as a gift--I am ashamed to present it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Tom Randall on November 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
To fully appreciate Adams's book the reader is required to know the general parameters of the author's life. While Adams's autobiography, "The Education of Henry Adams" , was written after this volume it is nevertheless necessary to read it first and to also acquaint oneself with the details of Adams's marriage to Clover Hooper which is not mentioned at all in the book. Mont Saint Michel and Chartres is personalized history. If you want a more objective history look elsewhere. Some people are put off by its subjectivity. But in my view that subjectivity is exactly what makes the book so great. It's about tremulous, perilous striving of an age, of religion, of faith, and finally of one's personal life. It's about the stress between unity and multiplicity. The book is profound in its exploration of these themes. It's learned, it's funny, it's ironic, and, in the end, profoundly moving. Reading these two books will provide any reader wiling to put in the effort with some of the wisest and most trenchant observations in all literature all put forth in some of the most elegant prose ever written.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Arnold J Bradford on November 22, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have always loved the tone and personality of Adams' autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams. But I'd never read Mont Saint Michele and Chartres. Got the book for my Kindle as travel reading. Having been to both places made the book very easy to get into. Adams brings his wonderful mind, wit, learning, and insight to bear on these two sacred spots as expressions of the Romanesque and Gothic sensibilities, the male and female, justice and mercy. he thinks in terms of the dualisms inherent in Christianity and the psychological archetypes prevalent in his time. In the course of the book he takes the reader from the earlier Norman-era shrine to the flat fields southwest of Paris where Chartres cathedral dominates the skyline. Along the way he engages every major medieval personality, from Abelard to Aquinas. Adams evokes a vision of the tensions, ideals, and travails of the Middle Ages. And he presents the only cogent rationale I have ever read for the veneration / worship of the Virgin. Read this book. It will stimulate your intellect and please your imagination.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dave_42 on September 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres" is clearly a work of love by Henry Adams. To be sure, Adams can come off as a bit pompous with his repeated declarations of quotes which can only be read in French and not translated (which are probably best read that way, but impossible for many people who don't read French at all), but his love of the subject is key, as his enthusiasm is infectious and the reader is likely to start to plan their trip to see these incredible structures for themselves.

Though not divided that way by the author, I felt that the book had two sections. The first is the architectural discussion of Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres, which focuses on the history of their construction, the architectural decisions, and the relative historical events which shaped the structures. It should also be pointed out that while those two structures dominate the discussion, it is not limited to just those two. In fact, Adams is looking at the structures built by the Normans in the 11th century and moving forward into the 12th and 13th centuries. Adams starts with the Abbey Church at Mont-Saint-Michelle in 1020, going through Coutances, Caen, Bayeux, Palermo, Île-de-France and eventually to Chartres.

Of course, some features have been destroyed over the years, and Adams seeks out examples to replace those as well, such as the central tower at Mont-Saint-Michel where he looks at Cérisy-la-Forêt, Lessay, and Falaise. Adams also adds flavor to this journey that he is taking us on, with discussion of verses, art, and history of the time and in those areas. In most cases he provides the needed translations, but as I indicated earlier, there are times he withholds all translation because he believes it must be read in French.
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